According to the Blue Zones researches, only 20% of your potential to live a long life is down to your genes and the other 80% is to do with your environment. For those not familiar with Blue Zones research, this is research conducted on the areas of the world with the greatest longevity – called The Blue Zones. These hot spots include Okinawa (the Japanese Hawaii), Sardinia (Italy); Nicoya (Costa Rica); Icaria (Greece); and among the Seventh-day Adventists in Loma Linda, California. The studies offer an explanation, based on empirical data and first hand observations, as to why these populations live healthier and longer.
Having become rather fascinated by these studies I put together a workshop on this topic which was piloted yesterday as part of Hurst Festival in West Sussex. In fact, I held two back to back workshops as the first sold out within hours; seemingly people want to live long lives and are after the know- how of how to do this.
We focused on Okinawa and discussed their diet, looking back to the early part of the 20th century as this was when the current centenarians were laying down their ‘health foundations’. We discovered that sweet potato took up 60% of their calories so considered the nutrient content of this humble starchy root. Also important to consider are the tight social connections, the entrenched beliefs of group support (both emotional and financial) and the daily exercise. The Okinawans also grow medicinal gardens which provide them with health giving herbs and spices such as mugwort, ginger and turmeric.
By the end of the workshop we’d worked out which parts of this fascinating culture we could emanate and which parts we could work on. The latter involved the fact that the elders in Okinawa are well respected. They share their wisdom and experience with the younger population. Age groups mix more readily perhaps. In the UK extended families are more segregated, the support network less visible.
We sipped on jasmine tea and ate ‘Longevity Muffins’ – containing carrot, beetroot and butternut squash eaten in a group setting… combining high anti-oxidants and social connections!
When closing the workshop one of the participants shared that she had been inspired to spend more time with her grandparents, others determined to bring some of the high nutrient foods into their diets daily and others inspired by new recipes and information.
Do get in touch if you would like to take part in a future longevity workshop or would like to book one in for a home or work health boost session.
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